When the schedule was released back in November there were few weekends that were projected to be bigger than this weekend. So far neither team has disappointed this season with both coming in highly ranked and regarded as some of the top teams in the ACC. Clemson (7-3) enters the game coming off a hard fought series loss to in-state foe South Carolina. The series got pretty heated after Coach Leggett questioned the integrity of Jackie Bradley Jr. of USC, one of the top players in the nation. Read more about the "heated" USC-Clemson series here. I imagine that with the loss of that series, Clemson will be looking to get some revenge and take it out on the Hoos.
The Tigers are quite similar to the Cavaliers in both the pitching and hitting aspects of the game. On the mound Clemson has comparable but not nearly as dominating stats as UVa. The top two weekend starters for the Tigers have impressive ERAs but they might not be on the docket due to the South Carolina series. The only starter announced was Junior RHP Scott Weisman, who will enter Friday with a not-so-impressive 5.40 ERA and given up 14 hits in only 15 innings in 3 games started.
One of the other starters (probably Sunday) will be Junior RHP David Haselden. Haselden has the best stats on the staff with a miniscule 1.06 ERA in 17 IP. The third starter is a mystery because Clemson recently lost thieir other starter (Kevin Brady) to injury. While the Clemson staff has certainly been impressive all year, the UVa staff has been a bit better. I don't have a list of the top team ERAs in the nation but UVa's 1.50 has to be close to the tops in the country. My point: both teams hitters will need to bring their A games.
While both staffs have arguments to being the better one entering the weekend, I would venture to say that Clemson has an advantage at the plate over the Hoos (it's a small advantage, don't worry). The Tigers have amassed a .343 AVG and an impressive .469 slugging percentage. The Tigers have four players batting over .400 and Sophomore C Spencer Kieboom is batting a RIDICULOUS .500 on the year! Fortunately, so far, he's a singles hitter having only hit 1 extra base hit all year.
Coming into the season, the main question facing Clemson was who was going to replace Kyle Parker, who left after being drafted by the Rockies. Nobody has truly replaced the power numbers that Parker produced but Senior OF Chris Epps has come the closest with 2 HRs, 6 RBIs, and 11 Runs. Unfortunately for Clemson, he can't hit a breaking ball very well. Needless to say, for UVa to keep up those gaudy numbers they have produced so far this year, they will have pitch the way they have all year, if not better.
At the beginning of the year I predicted Clemson would take two of three from the Hoos. Even if that happens nobody would think less of the Hoos and they would certainly not fall far in the rankings. After seeing the way this team has been playing all year I might rethink my prediction and say UVa takes two of three and cements itself as the best in the ACC. Coach Oak and co. have had Clemson's number for the past few years and always seem to pull out the wins against the Tigers. As always, I will be providing updates via Twitter @STLUVABaseball and especially this weekend: GO HOOS!!!!
p.s. The only thing that will save me from breaking my tv this weekend after that terrible bball loss today will be UVa baseball wins so, pray for my tv. PLEASE.
p.s.s. This weekend also carries more meaning for me because my sister is a current Clemson Tiger but I think she might be wearing a UVa Baseball shirt around Anderson this weekend!